***Geoff and I take a look at the two coaches; there’s reasons why certain coaches keep winning and others struggle to get over the hump…and it was clearly evident last night***
© Geoff Brookes and Chuck Duboff
Geoff’s take on Peter Laviolette:
I learned three things at last night’s Jets-Preds playoff game 4.
- Peter Laviolette doesn’t like losing.
- He has a great big hockey bag full of game strategies.
- He has complete control over a veteran hockey team.
Peter said to himself after a wild and wooly game 3 loss to the Jets, “Pete, I don’t like losing.”
So Laviolette did what great coaches do. He changed the script.
“Track meet, Schmack meat,” he muttered, his mind working furiously, late Tuesday night. “Do I care if people love the fast hockey, if the Jets get to move the puck up the ice like Olympic speed skaters?”
After a 2 millisecond pause, he answered himself, “No.”
So Lavvy pulled out his pitching wedge, and practised his short game.
“We’re going to make the Jersey Devils look like the Flying Frenchmen. I’m ripping the engines out of those Jets. And I don’t care if there’s a mechanic around to help them with the engines afterward.”
The Preds dutifully fell into line with the coach’s new instructions. Under their Yellow Jerseys they wore 90’s Devils Red and Green. They lined up between the 2 blue lines. One assistant coach was heard to say that deserters would be shot in the head with a puck.
And gosh darn it all, it worked. The Jets gathered steam in their own end, and when they reached the blue, they sputtered. Their engines deprived of oxygen, they lost their speed and their lift. They coughed up the puck.
Speed. Gone. Got to. Think.
The Preds won 2-1. They gathered confidence in their yellow turbulence strategy as the night wore on. The Jets had some good chances to score in the first period, before the turbulence hit them full on. If they had scored early, it might have made the game seem more winnable. But they continued skating into the brick neutral zone wall.
Paul Maurice and friends will have to come up with something out of their own hockey bag of tricks, or face the fate that Pete was facing.
Some free advice – start the track meet at centre ice. Use the Jets speed for the guys that *don’t* have the puck. Dump and chase. It’s the only thing that ever works against a clogged neutral zone.
Use your speed for puck retrieval, instead of carrying it through the clogged, thin band of yellow. Play fetch with the greyhounds.
Don’t give up on speed. In fact, double up. Let the young guns fly (Hendricks is too slow). Just start their engines at centre ice.
Lavvy doesn’t like losing. It’s time for the Jets to show that they can adapt as well.
Chuck’s take on Paul Maurice:
There are reasons why coaches are seen as winners; they come up with great strategy, have the confidence of their team, and are able to adapt in game to counter the other team’s strategy.
On all counts, Paul Maurice was out coached by Peter Laviolette last night. As Geoff detailed, the Preds unleashed a smothering, neutral zone strategy which shut down the Jets vaunted offence. What was frustrating as a fan to watch was seeing the Jets doing the same thing over and over and over. They got to centre ice and tried to stickhandle their way in…it wasn’t working; the Jets were hitting a brick wall and getting frustrated.
This is where Coach Maurice failed his team; it’s his job to coach a new strategy, to gather the players between periods and say: this is what we are going to change up. But that sure didn’t happen last night. Call a time out in third period and do something different…it wasn’t working. While Lavi adapted after game three…Coach Maurice failed big time.
That wasn’t all. Fans all throughout the arena were dumbfounded as to why Coach Maurice decided to once again dress Matt Hendricks and sit Jack Roslovic who was replaced by Joel Armia. That left Perrault, Roslovic, Mathias and Dano all in the press box. What left everybody confused and angry was when Maurice didn’t even play Hendricks after a couple of shifts in the first period. Not using Hendricks was an admission by the Coach that he had screwed up. By doing this, both Andrew Copp and Joel Armia were neutered and Coach Maurice was left sending out just three lines. Coach Maurice’s stubborn streak negated our best checking line of Lowry, Tanev and Copp. Why we didn’t have a third line of Little, Perrault and Roslovic to start the game leaves me shaking my head. By stubbornly dressing Matt Hendricks, and leaving much more talented players in the press box, the coach lost the confidence and trust of his players. That wasn’t the Jets team that we’ve seen all season…that was a team being coached by a man who demonstrates a stubborn streak and an inability to make changes on the fly.
The Jets last night were a team that was out coached, out maneuvered and beat by a coach who was willing to adapt.